CIMA Case Study: Examiner's Comments

CIMA Case Study: Examiner's Comments


The CIMA case study exams are designed to test a range of skills which a management accountant in the 21st Century needs to possess. The examiner therefore strives to test a student’s skills related to communication, analysis, and information presentation via a case study exam.

In addition to testing these skills, the concepts, and theories which you have learnt under OTQ subjects are also tested. You are expected to apply these concepts to real-life business situations, considering a fictitious company as highlighted in the pre-seen document.

Most students find it difficult to pass the case study exam in the first sitting. The trick to pass is to understand what the examiner says about the exam and selecting a tutor which provides high quality study material and exam standard mock exams and suggested answers.

Let’s try to understand what the examiner is saying.


Format of CIMA case study exams


Case study exams are conducted across four exam sittings in a year (February, May, August and November) and is 100% computer based. At the exam, candidates will be given access to the Pearson VUE exam platform.

Each question has a specific time allocation and when the time limit is reached, the candidate will be automatically directed to the next question. Note that candidates cannot revisit previous questions, since the exam window is locked upon reaching the time limit.

Each case study exam carries a total time allocation of three hours. OCS and MCS exams comprise of four main tasks per exam and SCS three. Students are advised to consider the weightage stipulated under each sub-task, before developing answers.

Note that at the case study exam, the examiner rarely expects you to carryout calculations. Instead, all number and figures will be provided as part of the question or reference material. Candidates are thus required to interpret or analyze the provided numbers and figures when providing answers.

Also note that there are at least three different versions (variants) of exam papers for each sitting. Such a method is adopted to ensure that each candidate gets a unique exam paper, thereby adhering to global examination standards.


What is a pre-seen document?


The pre-seen is released six weeks before the exam and highlights information relevant to a fictitious company which is used as the base for each case study exam. The questions in the exam (un-seen) are solely dependent on the pre-seen.

The pre-seen document usually comprises of five main sections, which includes an introduction to the company, industry information, company operations, financial statements and additional reading material.

The examiner expects all students to analyze the pre-seen document thoroughly, before preparing for the exam.  To make sure that students possess in-depth knowledge about the key points highlighted in the pre-seen, we at TCS prepare an ‘Annotated Pre-seen’ Check out a sample of the Annotated Pre-seen document which is compiled by our very own Lead Tutors.


Mark allocation


CIMA has a set of specialist evaluators to mark your answer scripts. The marking is carried out maintaining utmost levels of quality and adhering to global educational standards, with the aim of testing the business-readiness of each candidate. Further, the entire marking process is moderated to eliminate any discrepancies. The results are then published, five weeks after the exam.

Each paper carries a total mark allocation of 150, out of which, a candidate needs to score 80 (54%) to pass.  Further, the students are supposed to be mindful of the weightage mentioned under each subtask, which acts as the best guidance into marks and time allocated. The students are thus supposed to determine the content and the depth of the answer by considering these weightages.

This is what the examiner says about the marking process, as per CIMA’s official examiner’s report.

“The weighting attached to each sub-task was stated, and candidates were advised to allocate the time available for each sub-task based on those weightings. Markers were instructed to adopt a holistic approach to marking, which meant that the answer to each sub-task was read and judged on its merits. 

Markers were provided with specific guidance as to the characteristics of level 1, level 2, and level 3 answers for each separate sub-task. As always, the key to achieving a passing mark or better is to answer the question as set. Higher marks are awarded to fuller answers that are relevant and correct.”


Concluding thoughts


We hope that this article helped you understand about case study exams and the requirements of the examiner.

You can also checkout the blogpost, CIMA Case Study: Issues Vs. Solutions to ensure that you overcome common issues faced by a typical candidate facing a CIMA case study exam.



Looking to pass your case study exam in the first sitting? You are just a click away. We at TCS provide exam standard mock exams and suggested answers, along with premium quality additional material which consists of videos and content which are concise and downloadable. In fact, all our products come with a Pass Guarantee!

You can attempt all mock exams under real exam conditions via our very own exam platform, which is akin to the platform of Pearson VUE. Professional feedback is provided for three mock exams and all answer scripts will be marked by our Lead Tutors with more than 10 years of CIMA tutoring experience.

You will also have access to the online discussion forum moderated by TCS’s Lead Tutors and you can share your knowledge, clarify doubts, and connect with Lead Tutors and colleagues 24/7, via the discussion forum.

Checkout our website on to get a glimpse into the type of services offered by TCS. You can also gain an insight into the quality of material provided by TCS by referring to the sample material which are included under each product page.

You can access the free content by accessing our website. The free content consists of pre-seen analysis video 01, video on exam technique and a mini mock exam and suggested answers.

About this blog

  Nic Jones
  4th May 2021